Our security and intelligence services do an outstanding job, often taking significant personal risks and operating across the world in circumstances they do not control. It is vital that we allow them to act to protect our country, but we must do so in a way that is consistent with the law and our unequivocal commitment to human rights.
The UK should always be at the forefront of international efforts to detect and expose torture and to bring those responsible for it to justice. To play our part in leading the world in these efforts, we must lead by example.
Allegations that members of our security and intelligence services may have been involved in the improper treatment of detainees held by other countries need proper and full investigation. As you may know, an independent, judge-led inquiry was established in 2010, led by Sir Peter Gibson. However, because of police investigations, this was abandoned in 2012 and followed up by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) of Parliament.
After a nearly five-year inquiry into detainee mistreatment and rendition, the ISC recently published two reports – one looking at the 2001-2010 period and another looking at current issues. These reports uncovered new findings but still fail to provide the whole truth.
It is clear from the reports that the ISC was denied access to individuals, severely limiting its ability to give as comprehensive an answer to the questions that remain over this issue. The ISC also criticised ongoing inadequacies on guidance relating to torture and rendition. I, therefore, support a fresh judge-led inquiry to get to the bottom of these issues once and for all.
Indeed, when the then Justice Secretary announced the abandonment of the original Gibson inquiry, he said that the Government fully intended to hold an independent, judge-led inquiry once all police investigations had concluded. I know that the former Justice Secretary has reminded the current Prime Minister of this commitment that was made. In response to an urgent question from Kenneth Clarke, here is what I said.